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May 2021Vol. 22, No. 5Children and Youth With Special Health-Care Needs in Foster Care

A brief published by Child Trends explores the prevalence of children and youth with special health-care needs (CYSHCN) within the foster care system as well as the experiences of CYSHCN and their families. CYSHCN can have differing experiences in care and varying reasons for entering care, as well as worse permanency outcomes than their peers without special health-care needs. Their families may have difficulty accessing needed health-care services or navigating the health-care system. This could stem from administrative delays, incomplete medical histories, or not having the training and support necessary to understand the special health-care needs of their child. 

Almost a quarter of children in out-of-home care are diagnosed with an identified special health-care need, although the proportion varies widely across states. Understanding the differences in diagnoses and experiences based on race/ethnicity, gender, and age is crucial to ensuring that children receive appropriate services. The following are some key findings from this comparison:

  • Children and youth of color were more likely to have been identified as having a special health-care need.
  • Lack of access to quality health-care providers may compound the trauma experienced by CYSHCN.
  • CYSHCN experience different challenges to permanency than their peers in care without a special health-care need.

Read Children and Youth With Special Health Care Needs in Foster Care to learn more.